by Bonnie Wurst
The new MUHC hospital, dubbed the ‘Superhospital’, is fast becoming an impressive part of Montreal’s skyline. Over the past few years Montrealers have watched it rise into the sky at the old Glen Yards rail site with both anticipation and apprehension. Behind the Vendome Metro station, nestled between St. Jacques and Decarie Boulevards and west of Glen Road, it is now a new part of the city’s horizon. According to the MUHC as of January 3rd, the hospital is more than 82 per-cent complete and the work is proceeding on time and on budget. They are well on their way and confident of being ready for its official opening in 2015.
It does indeed look promising. Asphalting and landscaping are pretty much complete – there are now sidewalks and paved roads. Indoors, the drywall installation and joints are done as well as the ceilings and floor finishings. Painting is nearing completion and the heating and cooling systems are operational. Over 1,600 workers and 400 professionals have been working together to help bring the state-of-the-art hospital to reality.
The MUHC (McGill University Health Center) was formed in 1997, merging the Montreal General, Royal Victoria, Montreal Children’s, Montreal Neurological and the Montreal Chest Institute hospitals. (In 2008, the Lachine Hospital and Camille-Lefebvre Pavilion also became part of the MUHC.) The goal was create a modern, academic health center consolidating the resources of the five founding hospitals for the benefit of patients, staff and researchers.
The Quebec government committed to the MUHC’s vision to the tune of over 2.3 billion dollars for the new ‘Superhospital’ at the Glen site and for the Montreal General Hospital renovations and upgrades. The government asked the MUHC to keep a site in the downtown area and the Montreal General Hospital was chosen, being the most recent of the MUHC buildings and the only level-one adult trauma care in close proximity. Another 63 million dollars was committed to expand and modernize the Lachine Hospital. On June 17th 2010 the MUHC broke ground on the Glen site and construction began.
The ‘Superhospital’ will be the new home for the Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal Children’s Hospital, Montreal Chest Institute, the Research Institute of the MUHC, a New Cancer Centre and the Shriners Hospital for Children.
The new Shriners Hospital (which is affiliated with the MUHC) was originally slated to move to the new MUHC Glen site, but the project had been delayed by more than a decade. Following years of wrangling within the Shriners about moving the hospital to London, Ontario, a general vote of the Shriners in July 2005 sealed its fate. After being promised 5 million dollars and the land for the hospital on the Glen Yard site, Montreal won by three votes over London, 608 to 605.
As one of the most innovative academic health centers in North America, the new MUHC site will transform patient care and provide a state-of-the-art learning environment for the next generation of healthcare professionals. Not only will the ‘superhospital’ have sophisticated patient-centered facilities, but it will house one of the most advanced research centers on the continent, bringing research from the lab to the bedside for the benefit of patients here and around the world.
Leading-edge surgical facilities, separate adult and pediatric emergency departments, outpatient clinics linked to 25 departments and a neonatal intensive care unit, amongst other services – will all be under one roof.
Patients and families were put at the center of the design for the new facilities. Privacy, dignity, efficiency and innovation are integral parts of the plan to create a therapeutic environment. Every room at the Glen site will be single-patient and will have its own bathroom.
Rooms will each measure 25 square meters and represent a major advance in medical care from the current MUHC standard. At present, two patients often share rooms at the Montreal General and Royal Victoria hospitals. The older rooms also don’t have sinks next to the doors for staff to wash their hands and prevent the spread of deadly germs like C. difficile and staph aureus. In contrast, each new room at the superhospital will not only have a sink next to the door, but a spacious bathroom with a shower in the corner. An alcove with a large reclining couch will be located next to the window for visitors, and a flat-screen TV will hang on a wall across from the patient’s bed.
There will be natural light, a relaxing family area where loved ones can stay overnight and comfortable air conditioning. The rooms will be big enough so that medical equipment can be easily moved in and out, meaning treatments can be administered bedside, decreasing the need to move patients back and forth.
Off the Glen site’s main street is the Main Galleria that will lead patients, staff, families and visitors to their destinations. It will house cafés and restaurants and be filled with natural light.
Another impressive part of the project is the Pneumatic Tube System hidden in the walls of the new superhospital – ‘the veins of the Glen site’. With an estimated 5,000 transactions per day, special capsules will carry blood, medication and emergency medical items to professionals. The size of a capsule is similar to that of a 2-litre plastic bottle and can travel 20 feet per second, which is a little over 20 km/h. They are tagged using a radio-frequency identification (RFID) system, meaning capsules can’t get lost, as personnel will be able to track their progress at all times. They can also be returned automatically to their sending stations after delivery. According to Frank Vieira, Associate Director of Finance at the MUHC, “Since the Glen is so large, materials sometimes have to travel distances of 1,000 feet and many stories up or down. Pneumatic Tubes will help quickly deliver critical items… which is extremely important in a tertiary and quaternary care institution.”
The Royal Victoria Hospital will ensure that its tradition for excellence continues at the Glen with the
physical organization of services and latest technologies. Daybeds for the Cardiovascular Sciences Program, will mean more cardiac procedures can be done daily. Furthermore, the new Women’s Health unit will be a family-focused area with large single-patient rooms providing space for the mother, newborn and a partner to spend the night.
The Montreal Children’s Hospital will have state-of-the-art facilities and include a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit located next to the Birthing Centre to ensure immediate attention for newborns needing critical care. Joyful colors, adapted environments, comforting materials and an on-site playground will reduce stress from being in the hospital.
The new Shriners Hospital pavilion will be located right beside it. The close proximity to one another will offer invaluable opportunities for collaboration between the Montreal Children’s and Shriners through the enrichment of pediatric orthopedic research and care.
The MUHC Research Institute, with a worldwide reputation in the field of biomedical sciences and health care, will continue to be at the cutting edge of technology at the new site with the latest diagnostic and treatment equipment and modern information systems. More than $280 million will be invested in the new equipment, resulting in faster diagnostics and improved care. Information and communications systems will link the sites with network partners and healthcare institutions around the world.
The Montreal Chest Institute’s ability to advance its expertise in the study and treatment of lung cancer and respiratory diseases will be facilitated by access to the Research Institute. Plus, the proximity to the Children’s will make it easier for teenagers who suffer from cystic fibrosis, asthma and other respiratory diseases to make the necessary transition to programs for young adults.
The New Cancer Centre at the Glen will be one of the few comprehensive centers of excellence for cancer care in North America and will represent a new Canadian standard, providing Quebecers with some of the finest facilities in the country. All the MUHC’s cancer programs and services, including ambulatory clinics, an oncology day hospital and an urgent care center, will be brought together in one place. Patients will no longer have to go from department to department, or travel from hospital to hospital for appointments. Nurse case managers specialized by type of cancer will assist patients and their families to navigate the health system.
The linear design of the new Emergency Departments (adult and children) allows for healthcare teams to be closer to patients and work more closely with each other. The new EDs also include single rooms, which ensure privacy and dignity for patients.
The Intensive-Care Unit layout allows for maximum efficiency, with its medical intervention rooms located side-by-side in a long row. Windows have been cut into the walls of each room to allow doctors and nurses to have better views of what’s going on around them in the ICU.
The ‘Superhospital’ is scheduled to open in the summer of 2015, with construction to be completed and much of the medical equipment installed in the autumn of 2014. Meanwhile the Montreal General, which will remain in its current location on Cedar Ave. downtown, is undergoing renovations and eventually all its patient rooms will be single as well.
Concerns about lack of office space for doctors, the infrastructure changes happening around the new hospital, the flow of car traffic, the apprehensions of nearby residents and pedestrians – as well as the questions of cyclists who use the bicycle path along de Maisonneuve Boulevard, still need to be ironed out.
In the end, this journalist believes the new MUHC ‘Superhospital’ will be something all Montrealers will be proud of. It will be the envy of the international medical community and one of the most renowned hospitals in the world – and we will be lucky to have it in our own backyard.
For more details on the Superhospital visit the MUHC website at http://muhc.ca/new-muhc/dashboard